28 Aug 13 at 3:40 PM #4721
Rome wasn’t built in a day, so seeing it in what amounts to a weekend isn’t actually humanly possible. Even if you had a month to visit, you couldn’t scratch the surface of the Eternal City’s overwhelming amount of ancient archeological landmarks, nearly 3,000-year old culture, art, seven hills, neighborhoods, food and wine. So, how does one do Rome justice in such a short timeframe? The following are 5 simple tips to help you get the most out of your 48 hours, 2,880 minutes or 172,800 seconds in Rome…
Tip #1: In the Zone
First, it’s important to understand how Rome is laid-out. The Centro Storico (Historic Center) is where the most popular sights are located (one major exception, Vatican City and St. Peter’s Square). While some destinations are accessible by Metro (subway), others can be reached only by bus, taxi or on foot. A little planning beforehand will save you time and un sacco di mal di testa (a bunch of headaches) later.
I highly recommend purchasing a Rome Pass (34€). This 3-day pass includes unlimited Metro, tram and bus rides plus entrance fees to archeological sites and museums. In the alternative, a 3-day Metro/bus pass (16.50€) is also available. Pick up a really good, pocket-sized, laminated map of Rome with clearly marked streets and Metro stops. The Pocket Pilot Series (English) or Plasticized Roma map are both easy-to-read, simple-to-fold, non-tear maps you’ll find at most newsstands or souvenir shops. The best 4€ you’ll ever spend.
Tip #3: First Things First
To optimize your time in Rome take a few minutes to prioritize your itinerary. If this is your first time here, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum should be on your “must see” list. Consider booking a tour to “jump the lines”, saving you literally hours of waiting or visit late in the afternoon when crowds tend to die down. It’s best to accept the fact that you can’t do everything so choose those things to see and do that matter most to you.
I have one word for you: “Bundle.” For example, the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona (Bernini’s masterpiece, Fountain of Four Rivers) and Campo de’ Fiori are relatively close to one another – condensing your day and grouping by geographical area is a real schedule-saver.
Here’s one example you can follow: Trevi Fountain-to-Pantheon-to-Piazza Navona-to-Campo de’ Fiori. Then, hop on a bus H (on Via Arenula) to Piazza Venezia and climb the Capitoline Hill for a magnificent view of the Forum and Coliseum. If you have extra time you can take the elevator to the roof of the monument of Vittorio Emanuele III for its breathtaking views. Descend the hill and stroll down Via dei Fori Imperiali along the Forum to the iconic Roman Coliseum with its adjacent triumphal Arch of Constantine.
Now you can take the Metro’s Blue Line (transferring to the Red Line at Termini) and get off at Piazza Barberini (Bernini’s Triton Fountain and Via Vittorio Veneto of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita fame) or continue one more stop to the Spanish Steps. From Piazza di Spagna meander up Via Condotti (where the “beautiful people” shop), turning right on Via Del Corso to the Piazza del Popolo that lies just inside the northern gate of the Aurelian Wall. Above you are steps to the Pincio balcony in the Villa Borghese, Rome’s nature-filled public park, where you’ll enjoy one of the most spectacular views of Rome anywhere in the city.
It’s amazing how much of Rome you can cover with a bit of organization and an adventurous spirit, however don’t forget to slow down and savor your experiences. Put away your map and guidebook for a moment and sit on the steps in front of the Pantheon licking a gelato or scoot off the main boulevard to find a quiet neighborhood café for a leisurely glass of wine in the afternoon. Keep in mind that you’ll look back on these special Roman memories affectionately and with nostalgia – don’t underestimate their significance. I know it’s a cliché and it has been said a million times before, but I’m going to say it yet again: When in Rome…
30 Aug 13 at 6:33 AM #4761
Ciao Toni — thanks for sharing your tips. One more tip for getting around in Rome efficiently is use taxis!
Taxis are relatively cheap in Rome, and you can get around quickly and save a lot of time if you’re trying to cram a lot into a day.
Though not as cheap as the bus or Metro system, you can get around from point-to-point in the historic center for around € 5 or so. Taxis are a godsend toward the end of the day when you’re tired and ready to head back to your hotel — there’s nothing like a quick trip back to your home base.
One thing to keep in mind: You’ll want to pick up a taxi at a marked taxi stand or a hotel. You can’t miss them, they’re marked with a bright orange sign and sprinkled all over the city, particularly near major tourist and governmental sites. You can try and hail a taxi you see driving down a street, but this doesn’t always work (late evening may be the exception).
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